Miso Soup

March 15th, Friday:

DSCN4408

  • Miso Soup (Carrot, Cabbage, Burdock)
  • Stirfried Bean Curd and Sliced Konnyaku (Konnyaku, Pork, Aburage, Shiitake Mushroom)
  • Salt Yeast-Broiled Greenling
  • Rice
  • Milk
  • Kcal: 799

Tsuki-konnyaku (Sliced Konnkyaku) is like block konnyaku but it is pressed out in strips. It’s flavour can be quickly noticed while still retaining the texture of konnyaku. It is often used in stirfry.

Today’s Aburage and Konnyaku Stirfry was quite popular among my students. They seemed to enjoy the fish too. Actually, today’s fish was quite nice, without many bones and really easy to separate from the skin and eat. There were many teacher’s absent today, so you can see from my plate above everyone got nearly two helpings. I can’t eat that much of course–or well I could, but I’d probably feel sick afterwards– so after carrying my lunch up to the classroom I traded my okazu tray with a more normal serving.

みそ汁
油揚げとつきこんにゃくの炒り煮
ほっけの塩麹焼き
ごはん
牛乳

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Mahimahi

March 4th, Monday:

DSCN4350

  • Miso Soup (Onion, Cabbage, Carrot)
  • Simmered Hijiki and Atsuage (Hijiki Seaweed, Atsuage, Carrot, Green Bean, Konnyaku, Chicken)
  • Breaded Teriyaki Mahimahi
  • Rice
  • Milk
  • Kcal: 814

Hijiki is a a food lots of Calcium and Iron, for which we need to build strong bones and prevent anemia. It also has a lot of zinc, which prevents distortion of our sense of taste.

Hijiki and atsuage is yummy! Today, I told my students that we call the fish today, “mahimahi” and they thought that was pretty amusing. Like Hawaiian, Japanese has many words made of repeating sounds, but most of them are onomatopoeia, so a word like “mahimahi” sounds a bit strange as a fish’s name. That said, it was tasty.

Anyway, I was reading a book about Moribe, a Japanese philosopher back in the day who stressed the importance of not abandoning Japanese classics in favour of Chinese\Western books. He argues that, in Japan, Japanese classics should be considered the base of knowledge but that foreign books are nice for supplementing them. And he compares this eating etc:

“Rice and fish are enough to fill one’s belly, but how much more satisfying it is to have vinegary dishes and seasoned vegetables. In much the same way, a man who already has a wife is still happy upon acquiring a concubine.”

I think this is an interesting quote, because it illustrates that in Moribe’s time, rice and fish were considered the basis of diet, and vegetables were considered more of a delicious addition, like dessert. Perhaps that mindset still as influence today, and explains why vegetables are better received by most Japanese children?

I love you Moribe!!!

DSCN4352

みそ汁
ひじきと厚揚げの煮物
シイラ照焼味フライ
ごはん
牛乳

Catching Colds

March 1st, Friday:

DSCN4341

  • Midakusan Soup (Potato, Tofu, Konnyaku, Burdock, Carrot, Onion)
  • Simmered Daikon and Mincemeat (Daikon Radish, Pork, Edamame)
  • Salt-Broiled Pentacerotidae
  • Wakame Rice
  • Milk
  • Kcal: 779

Shiitake that are dried in the sunlight become “Dried Shiitake”. When drying them in sunlight, their scent and flavour as well as their nutrition increases. Since they get all wrinkled up when drying, that is very strange.

I am a little confused why kyuushoku dayori above talks about shiitake, since today’s dish didn’t seem to include any mushrooms, shiitake or otherwise. Although the soup broth may have been shiitake based?

Anyway, the other day I was reading some of the papers posted in the classroom. It is common for each student to write their goals for the term at the beginning and then hang them all along the walls of the class. In this class room, the students each wrote two things they wanted to do (say good morning to fellow students, raise their test scores, etc.) and two things they wanted to avoid (forgetting things, bullying others etc.). One of the students wrote for the latter than he wanted to not catch a cold.

I thought this was interesting because–to me–catching a cold is not really something you have a lot of control over. Yes, you can wash your hands and gargle, but I don’t know, I seem to always catch the cold anyway. But actually, I think this sort of statement is an element of a broader way of thinking in Japan. For example, in America I think, if you are late but you have a good excuse, then you are forgiven since it wasn’t your fault. But in Japan, even if you have a good excuse, you are still held responsible for being late. So I think it is the same with catching a cold: even though it is not your fault, you are still responsible. I am reminded of a quote by Yoshida Shoin:

飲食男女の欲を縦にし、疾病を生じ、懶惰に陥り、気根を弱くしては、武士道が闕くるなり
Desiring food and drink or fine company, yielding to sickness, falling into idleness, or failing in willpower is the waning of bushido.

Getting sick is included along side vices like being lazy, a glutton, or a womanizer…【・_・?】

This way of thinking is has its merits and faults. On the good side, we can control a lot more things in our life than we think, and this way of thinking encourages responsibility and industriousness. On the bad side, it puts a great deal of pressure on people for things that they might not be able to control and this can lead to suicide. I imagine the important thing is to still hold people responsible, but never forget to temper it with compassion.

Wakame Gohan

Wakame Gohan

みだくさん汁
大根のそぼろ煮
つぼ鯛の塩焼き
わかめごはん
牛乳

Plummy! Simmered Saury

February 25th, Monday:

DSCN4319

  • Scallop Soup (Scallop, Tofu, Carrot, Chinese Cabbage, Burdock)
  • Simmered Dried Sliced Daikon (Dried Sliced Daikon, Satsuma-age, Hijiki Seaweed, Carrot, Green Bean, Sliced Konnyaku)
  • Plum Simmered Saury
  • Rice
  • Milk
  • Kcal: 846

Tofu 「豆腐」 is a food handed down from China.  The character fu 「腐」does not mean “rotten” in China, but means “something gathered from a liquid to make something firm out of something soft”.

To explain what the kyuushoku tayori means by the above, I should say that 腐 means rotten in modern Japanese, so the characters for tofu seem to literally say “rotten beans”, which does not sound the most appealing.

Anyways, the saury fish today is not that beautiful and rather hard to eat, but being plum-simmered gives it a really nice taste. I say this as a very picky eater. So frightening to behold, but delicious. I like hijiki and satsuma-age and konnyaku so much, so I really liked the simmered daikon, but judging from my students plates, the saury was far more popular than the daikon….

Other exciting things today was one of the boys split his entire soup all across his lap and we got to eat ぼっけもんsweets by 風月堂 from Kagoshima prefecture, since the superintendent brought them back as omiyage! I ate it before I could take a picture. I’m sorry.

  • ほたて汁
  • 切り干し大根煮
  • さんまの梅煮
  • ごはん
  • 牛乳

Baked Pudding Tart

February 21st, Thursday:
DSCN4312
  • Kenchin Udon (Udon, Bamboo Shoot, Spinach, Shimeji Mushrooms, Bean Curd, Carrot, Daikon Radishes, Green Onion, Plum Gluten, Konnyaku)
  • Milk
  • Local Squash and Mincemeat Fry
  • Baked Pudding Tart
  • Kcal: 724
The much anticipated dessert of today, precisely because it is so rare, is Baked Pudding Tart! It is very often requested. Is the secret to its popularity the suitability between the tart shell and the baked pudding?
Udon is pretty much always delicious, which its yummy vegetables, light broth, and fat noodles. Nom, nom, nom. The kabocha squash Fry was rather sweet, so I was surprised to know it had mincemeat in it. It seamed mostly kabocha. And of course, the Baked Pudding Tart was chosen as today’s favourite dish during the student radio program during lunch.
Excepting elementary schools, I visit seven schools. However all these schools are under the same board of education so the school lunch is the same. But normal teachers must change schools every six years or so. I was speaking to one of my teachers about school lunch and she said that she felt the school lunch in this area was rather on the lower end of school lunch quality, she felt the lunches in Asahikawa and other districts were better. So I thought it was interesting to hear her opinion.

けんちんうどん
牛乳
国産カボチャひき肉フライ
焼きプリンタルト

Suiton Soup

February 18th, Monday:

DSCN4307

  • Suiton Soup (Wheat Dumplings, Chicken, Bean Curd, Naruto Surimi, Carrot, Daikon Radish, Green Onion)
  • Five Ingredient Kinpira (Burdock, Carrot, Pork, Satsuma-age, Sliced Konnyaku, Green Bean)
  • Natural Teriyaki Amberjack
  • Rice
  • Milk
  • Kcal: 871

So, suiton (水団) are sort of hand formed soup dumplings made of wheat flour. As you know, I love dumplings, so I liked today’s soup. It was also full of other things I love like abura-age, naruto, and carrots. Also, the five ingredient kinpira seemed a little different than before.

I’m tired today… I was so busy last weekend.

Because who doesn't want to see a close up of this awesome suiton soup?!

Because who doesn’t want to see a close up of this awesome suiton soup?!

Pork and Tofu

February 15th, Friday:

DSCN4300

  • Miso Soup (Wakame Seaweed, Daikon Radish, Carrot)
  • Pork and Tofu (Grilled Tofu, Pork, Shimeji Mushroom, Green Onion, Sliced Konnyaku)
  • Veggies Dressed in Sesame
  • Wakame Rice
  • Milk
  • Kcal: 817

The spiciness of daikon changes depending on how it is cut up. If eaten sliced into sticks, it is sweet, but if grated, it is spicy, due to the effect of breaking the spiciness cell things.

Today’s Pork and Tofu brings up a slight but interesting difference between Japanese and Western culture. In the West, tofu is largely thought of as vegetarian health food, eaten not for its own sake, but as a meat substitute. Therefore, to have tofu and meat in the same dish seems a little strange to Americans and other Westerners I think. But in Japan tofu is of course its own food with all of its own characteristics, so adding it into a meat dish is quite natural.

Surimi (ie: imitation crab) is another Japanese food which has a similar reputation. Surimi is used in all sorts of dishes (yah for snack chikuwa!) but in the West it is almost entirely known as a crab imitation.

Anyway, I liked today’s vegetables too. They had a very healthy and delicious taste to them. As their name implies they were dressed in ground sesame: not a mayonnaise-sesame salad dressing, but just sesame. This was nice because while mayonnaise immediately has an appealing taste, it leaves a yucky feeling in the mouth after eating it.

Pork and Tofu

Pork and Tofu

みそ汁
肉豆腐
野菜のごま和え
わかめごはん
牛乳

Eho Maki Sushi

February 1st, Friday:

DSCN4276

  • Clear Soup (Tamogi Mushroom, Carrot, Plum Gluten, Trefoil, Wakame Seaweed)
  • Simmered Chicken (Chicken Breast, Burdock, Bamboo Shoot, Onion, Carrot, Shiitake Mushroom, Konnyaku)
  • Egg for Hand Wrapped Sushi
  • Tuna and Mayonaise
  • Nori Seaweed for Hand Wrapped Sushi
  • Rice
  • Milk
  • Kcal: 841

This Sunday is Setsubun. Traditions that involve food include throwing beans, eating eho maki, and hanging a grilled sardine stuck on a holly branch to ward away bad influences.

I liked today’s lunch. To start with the Simmered Chicken had a light feel with many delicious root vegetables, so it was really a dish made for me. And in honor of setsubun we had handwrapped sushi! We placed some rice on the nori, and then layered the tuna and egg on top and rolled it up and ate it. The nori was a little small, you can see my attempt:

DSCN4277

So as said before, this Sunday is Setsubun or the day before Spring. Mamemaki, or throwing beans is the most common tradition. Where I live, usually whole peanuts are used, but (often candied) soybeans or even small wrapped chocolates are used. “Oni wa soto! Fuku wa uchi!” or “Out the the Demons! In with Fortune!” is shouted. The windows should be opened during this as well, to, you know, let the demons out and fortune in. At the end, most people then eat the same amount of peanuts/beans as their years of age.

Eating ehomaki, too, is a now popular setsubun tradition, although if I recall correctly it was invented within the last 100 years following the “let’s commercialize holidays!” style Japan picked up from America. But eating giant makizushi while facing South-Southsoutheast isn’t so bad of a commercialization.

As for the sardine head tradition, I don’t know anybody personally who still follows it, but some old traditional families probably do.

すまし汁
炒りどり
手巻き寿司用玉子焼き
ツナマヨ
手巻き寿司用海苔

Pregnant Susuhamu

January 21st, Monday:

Photo-0309

  • Pork Soup (Pork, Potato, Tofu, Carrot, Onion, Burdock)
  • Shore Simmered Soybeans (Hijiki Seaweed, Satsuma-age, Carrot, Sliced Konnyaku, String Bean, Soybean)
  • Susuhamu with Child Fritter
  • Rice
  • Milk
  • Kcal: 812

Burdock is a vegetable with lots of dietary fiber.  We can’t digest the dietary fiber in burdock and it passes through our body, making clean our stomach and intestines. Burdock is a master at cleaning our stomachs. 

Can I be honest with you? I am all squeamish about eating fish which still have their heads, tails, or even many bones. So the susuhamu isn’t in my picture because another teacher kindly ate my portion for me. It’s childish to be all “it looks weird, I won’t eat it”, but oh well, I’m foreigner so its okay right? But I ate all of my delicious hijiki and soybean simmer!

In my island home and in Japan too, milk is served with every school lunch and students are encouraged by teachers and posters to drink their milk, especially in elementary school. In junior high school, a lot of students no longer drink the milk, because they don’t like it or it makes them sick. However, I think due to the meat and dairy heavy diet in schools and often at home too in modern Japan, Japanese people are on a whole getting taller and taller.

Is being tall a good thing? In modern fashion magazines and the opinion of most modern people (especially in the West), yes. But this is a really new opinion in Japan. It is an opinion that has been copied blindly from the West, I feel. In fact, I would like to argue that being tall is evolutionary disadvantages for an island country like Japan.

On islands, resources are somewhat limited. Likewise, there are not many natural dangers that require a large body to fend off. So on an archipelago like Japan, being smaller in size–thus requiring less resources–is to a person’s advantage. This can be even been seen in some animal populations in Japan, such as the Honshu fox or Ryukyu deer. You might argue that being bigger has its advantages now that Japan must compete with the taller, larger Westerners. But when Europeans and Japanese men were compared at the start of the Meiji period, the Japanese were able to better run long distances, endure extreme conditions, and so on than the Europeans, and with less food and resources (cf. Hearn).

So I think we should be careful to avoid blindly copying ideas when they might not necessarily be the best depending on the situation.

  • 豚汁
  • 大豆の磯煮
  • 子持ちししゃものフリッター
  • ごはん
  • 牛乳

Miso Oden Yum! Yum!

December 18th, Friday:

DSCN4209

  • Miso Soup (Winter Mushroom, Tofu, Green Onion)
  • Curry Miso Oden (Squid Surimi, Quail Egg, Daikon, Konnyaku, Carrot)
  • Salt-Broiled Dull Mackerel
  • Rice
  • Milk
  • Kcal: 860

Oden is a type of simmered dish. The ingredients differ depening on the place and household, but include daikon, bamboo surimi, and boiled eggs. What do you like in your oden?

Francois Launet is a french artist whose internet name is “Goomi” (塵), whose Cthulhian art I’ve been a fan of since high school. Here is a comic of his I always bringing to mind when eating. Unfortunately, only

CthulhuRamen

 

But I really honestly do love miso oden.

みそ汁
カレー風味みそおでん
とろさば塩焼き
ごはん
牛乳